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This Easy Italian Meringue Buttercream Recipe Is a Cake Decorator’s Dream

Buttercream. There’s simply no part of that word that sounds wrong. But even better-sounding? Italian meringue buttercream. 

Italian meringue buttercream

Learn how to make Italian meringue buttercream, an elegant and delicious cake topping ideal for cake decorating and piping.

Photos via CakeSpy

Learn how to make different types of buttercream!

better buttercream craftsy clas

Create your most delicious cakes yet. Whip up the melt-in-your-mouth Swiss, Italian and French buttercreams that sweet dreams are made of with these HD video lessons. Enroll Now »

About Italian meringue buttercream

Long regarded as a cake decorator’s dream of a buttercream, an Italian meringue buttercream recipe combines aspects of making meringue with candy-making for a smooth, slightly glossy, luxuriant cake topping. In spite of its name, it doesn’t actually always contain butter — it’s a mixture of egg whites, whipped and fortified with a hot sugar mixture, which are primarily responsible for giving this buttercream its silky texture. 

While some may be discouraged by the presence of a candy thermometer in the recipe, rest assured, this is not a complicated candy-making procedure. Monitoring the temperature of your sugar syrup allows you to incorporate it to the egg white mixture right when it is most primed to offer a firm consistency to your finished buttercream.

The resulting buttercream is smooth, pipes like a dream, and sets slightly firm, making it an ideal buttercream for cake decorating projects, wedding cakes in particular, as it will hold up to heat and humidity a little better than a traditional American buttercream, which is composed primarily of butter and confectioners’ sugar.  

Italian meringue buttercream

Italian meringue buttercream recipe

Makes 3-4 cups 


  • 1 cup granulated or superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 


  • Small saucepan
  • Rubber spatula
  • Pastry brush
  • Candy thermometer
  • Hand mixer, or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment
Note: International readers may enjoy our handy metric conversion guide.

Step 1:

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Clip a candy thermometer to the side, or have an instant-read thermometer at the ready.

Step 2:

Heat the mixture on medium. Brush the sides of the bowl with a lightly moistened pastry brush every few minutes to keep sugar bits from hardening on the sides of the pan. It will come to a boil, but this will take a few minutes, so begin to concurrently work on the rest of the recipe.

Boiling sugar for Italian meringue buttercream

Step 3:

While the sugar mixture heats, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. This should take less than 5 minutes (keep an eye on the hot sugar mixture on the stovetop as you work!). Pause the mixing.

Work toward soft peaks

Step 4:

Once the mixture begins to boil, keep a close eye on the temperature. Once it raises to about 238 F, remove from heat. Ultimately, a few degrees over 238 F is OK (for instance, as you can see in the photo, my mixture crept to 240 F after being removed from heat), but since the temperature will continue to raise slightly after the mixture is removed from heat, 238 F is an ideal time to remove the mixture from heat. Once removed from heat, let the bubbling subside briefly (just until the mixture is smooth; this will be a matter of seconds).

Sugar mixture for Italian meringue buttercream

Step 5:

Start the mixer again, on the lowest setting. Pour the sugar in a slow but steady stream. The mixture may steam a little bit. Once it is all added, increase the mixing speed to high and whisk the mixture until it is as firm as you like. You can stop at a soft, pillowy consistency or keep going until the mixture attains firm, stiff peaks. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.

Add hot sugar to meringue

For best results, once your buttercream has attained your desired consistency, begin decorating immediately; otherwise, cover the buttercream and store in the refrigerator until ready to decorate. Don’t make this buttercream more than a few hours in advance, as there is a possibility it can begin to separate. 

Learn how to make different types of buttercream!

better buttercream craftsy clas

Create your most delicious cakes yet. Whip up the melt-in-your-mouth Swiss, Italian and French buttercreams that sweet dreams are made of with these HD video lessons. Enroll Now »


Marisol Dominguez

Tal vez en un futuro sean las clases en español , pero gracias solo con ver e aprendido algunas cosas…..


How is this classified as a buttercream when there is no butter?? This is just a meringue….

Karen Lewis Saggus

How is this different from the traditional 7 minute frosting?


This recipe is actually for Italian Meringue. It is not Italian Meringue Buttercream. Italian Meringue Buttercream has an extra step, which is adding BUTTER after the meringue has cooled down.


This is misleading because it’s called Italian Meringue Buttercrean. Can’t believe it on Craftsy. This should be corrected !


Where is the butter in the buttercream recipe? These comments are old enough I would expect someone to monitor them and make a correction. I expect more from Craftsy.


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